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Heightened scrutiny on California debt-collection industry

Flying under the regulatory radar has never been the norm for California’s sprawling debt-collection industry. In fact, that specialized occupational sphere has always been an especially scrutinized target for state business officials and governing bodies.

Like the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (formerly the Department of Business Oversight). Bureaucrats from the DFPI have traditionally maintained a near bull’s-eye focus on debt collection companies, with rigorous oversight that mandates compliance across multiple performance categories.

As tight as that oversight has customarily been, it was ratcheted up a notch recently and is now marked by notably exacting requirements. We noted that in a Century Law Group, LLP blog post from last year, noting prospective California legislation seeking tight licensing controls and other restrictions on debt-collection professionals.

Senate Bill 908 was ultimately signed into law last autumn, with its goal of seeking “a material adjustment in the debt-collection industry” being firmly realized. The now-termed California Consumer Financial Protection Law provides for the following, among other things:

  • New licensing requirements, enforceable from January 1, 2022
  • Ramped-up regulatory scrutiny of borrower complaints, coupled with enforcement actions against alleged violators

That second bullet point has already come into play early in 2021. As noted by a recent article highlighting DFPI action taken on January 19, the agency “launched an investigation into a dozen debt collectors potentially engaging in unlawful, unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.” The DFPI will now closely examine complaints against those entities, with licensing implications being clearly on the line.

California professional license holders generally comprise a tightly regulated group. Individuals having questions or concerns regarding a formal investigation or disciplinary hearing can turn to an experienced license-defense legal team for candid advice and proven legal representation.

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